Luxury with a purpose
“Purpose” seems an obvious enough concept for players in the luxury sector. If they ask, “What would be missing if we didn’t exist?”, there are plenty of answers: excellence, creation, rarity, joy. But nowadays you have to say more: that you are in touch with millennials who are more concerned about experience than status, more concerned with the here-and-now than the lasting, more concerned with innovation than tradition. Above all, without understanding that contradictions are sometimes close, they always wish for positive impacts. Put another way, purpose must be more prevalent.
In the luxury sector as in every other, however much they favour high quality brands and products, socially responsible consumers have questions for companies.
Perhaps particularly because the consumption of high quality products is an expression of identity, they are concerned about such new subjects as the environment, health, safety and accessibility. They do not exempt the luxury sector from needing to demonstrate a positive impact at every stage of the chain, from the consumption of raw materials through to sales.
In 2019, for instance, the United Nations launched the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, which seeks “to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion” and describes the fashion industry as “the second-biggest consumer of water and […] responsible for 8-10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.”
In other words, fashion in general and the luxury sector in particular have become matters of public opinion.
This reality presents risks but primarily opportunities, particularly if, to discourse of exception, excellence and emotion, companies and their brands add language and actions to show their respect for people and for the planet.
And if they are able to get their stakeholders on board with them to illustrate this caring attitude. And if they are able to define a purpose that drives them, beyond their products and the fantasy worlds associated with them, towards taking a stance.
Angie provides support for this work on three levels:
- knowledge of opinion (key opinion leaders, key opinion communities, key opinion topics): mapping, personae, semantic analysis, monitoring;
- definition of an identity base that incorporates new expectations: purpose, values, storyline, lexicon;
- co-development and implementation of stakeholder engagement strategies, particularly stakeholders that “constitute” the company – shareholders, employees (current and future) and suppliers: social media (search and paid), closed communities, digital platforms (sites, apps, etc.), offline and online magazines, exhibitions and think tanks.